posted by Dave Nagle on October 29, 2013 3:30 PM
ESPN’s Chris Fowler on participating in
‘This Is What They Want’
[The film's co-director] Brian Koppelman is a friend. Over dinner a couple years ago, he asked my thoughts on a film about Jimmy Connors’ US Open run and if I could reach out to Connors.
I was like a lot of tennis fans, drawn in by the story of Jimmy’s run as the momentum began to build. I was a Connors’ fan as a kid in the ’70′s and it came full circle to be able to yell and shout for a 39-year-old battler. I was in the crowd for the [Aaron] Krickstein and [Paul] Haarhuis matches. I will never forget the primal energy Connors created in Armstrong Stadium. We haven’t seen anything quite like it since. The film captures that perfectly.
The film has so many wonderful moments. [ESPN analyst] Patrick McEnroe and particularly Krickstein sharing their long-supressed feelings about the pain and repercussions of letting their matches with Connors slip away was powerful. Aaron is really a star of the film, opening his soul and revealing painful stuff.
Sports fans were amazed at Jimmy Connors’ remarkable and surprising run at the 1991 US Open, eight years removed from his last major title. The future Hall of Famer fought his way all the way to the semifinals of the event he had won five times.
Those two weeks are the focus of tonight’s ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 This is What They Want (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). One very interested observer was Connors’ son, Brett. Then 12 – and now a freelance tennis producer who works for ESPN at the four Grand Slam events – Brett sees that Open as the climax of a year-plus road he travelled with his father. continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on September 10, 2013 8:00 AM
NEW YORK — On Friday night, ESPN was honored by the International Tennis Hall of Fame with the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award, given annually to a company in recognition of longstanding commitment to the sport. Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer accepted the honor, saying, “We take very seriously the trust of tennis fans who want and deserve coverage that is creative. . . thorough. . . and compelling. You have our commitment to continue to deliver on our 34-year track record doing just that.”
Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the ITFHOF, cited “ESPN’s dedicated coverage and innovative tennis programming has been integral in keeping fans engaged in tennis and helping to grow the sport around the world. With each passing tennis season, ESPN has displayed its steadfast commitment to the sport, developing an astute on-air team, constantly adding more hours of coverage, creating innovative digital platforms, and celebrating tennis’ rich history through fascinating special programming.” continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on September 5, 2013 8:00 AM
NEW YORK — Understanding that tennis is not simply a ball going back and forth across the net but involves two people hitting the ball across that net, the ESPN Tennis team emphasizes “discovery and access” to help personalize the athletes.
This goal is accomplished through features, on-set interviews, access to places at the venue unavailable to fans and through “bumps”– the segments leading in and out of commercial breaks. continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on August 29, 2013 2:43 PM
NEW YORK — Watching ESPN’s comprehensive coverage of the US Open is the next best thing to being at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. There are aspects of the US Open that are unique to the event — many of which are incorporated into ESPN’s coverage — and we’ve captured a few in the pictures below.
1. Arthur Ashe Stadium
The largest tennis facility in the world, Arthur Ashe Stadium will have a retractable roof in a few years, the USTA recently announced.
(Allen Kee/ESPN Images)
The iconic symbol of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, the unisphere is just outside the US Open grounds. It is the largest global structure in the world.
(Allen Kee/ESPN Images)
3. Arthur Ashe statue continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on August 27, 2013 11:57 AM
NEW YORK — By morning she is courtside, an analyst on US Open matches for ESPN’s iTV effort with ESPN2’s feed supplemented by action from five courts simultaneously on DirecTV. By mid-afternoon – and well into the evening – she becomes an on-camera host for ESPN.com video segments. Reacting to the news of the day, she files numerous reports, recapping the key matches and reviewing the top news of the day with an ESPN tennis analyst. Other segments preview the next day’s matches and she interviews players for video to accompany ESPN.com stories.
Oh, and she also tweets about it all (@ESPNPrim). These busy and varied days are par for the course at the US Open this week and next in New York for ESPN’s Prim Siripipat. Analyst, reporter, host — no wonder she calls herself the “Swiss army knife” of ESPN’s tennis coverage. Need something done? She can do it. continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on July 5, 2013 11:14 AM
LONDON — Every tennis court is the same. The surface varies — hard court, clay or grass — but the actual court is the same at every playground, country club or Grand Slam event: 78 feet long, 27 feet wide (for singles), the service line is 21 feet from the baseline, and the net is 3’6” high at the posts, 3’ in the center. continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on July 3, 2013 8:00 AM
LONDON — In the fall, host Chris Fowler sits alongside his College GameDay partners Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso every Saturday — as he has for 17 and 23 years, respectively — and now Desmond Howard has been a regular on the set since 2005. Each week in the Monday Night Football booth, play-by-play veteran Mike Tirico teams with Jon Gruden for cable’s most-watched series. On the NBA, it’s Tirico and analyst Hubie Brown on TV and then on ESPN Radio for the playoffs. At golf’s U.S. Open and the upcoming Open Championship in Scotland, Tirico is based at the 18th hole with analyst Paul Azinger.
With such familiarity comes comfort. A knowledge and trust of what to expect, and what is expected. You know each other’s habits, thoughts and foibles. Sort of like marriage. continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on July 1, 2013 4:00 PM
As a Wimbledon Juniors competitor in 2002, ESPN Associate Producer Tory Zawacki won a match on the fabled grass courts. (Dave Nagle/ESPN)
LONDON — When Associate Producer Tory Zawacki takes her position in the ESPN control room at tennis majors, she brings with her not just her television production skills, but the mindset of a tennis player who has played at those venues. At the junior level, she competed in singles and doubles at all four Grand Slam events, and in 2002 won a singles match on the famed grass courts of the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon. continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on June 24, 2013 12:00 PM
ESPN’s Darren Cahill (Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)
A member of the ESPN tennis team since 2007, Darren Cahill’s playing career included four ATP titles and peaked when he reached the 1988 US Open semifinal.
Not an early adopter of Twitter, Cahill, a native Australian, quickly became an avid user. His followers find his tweets a source of insight, humor, programming information, and they will certainly get all that and more during the next two weeks of ESPN’s exclusive coverage of Wimbledon, which kicked off earlier today. continue reading…
posted by Dave Nagle on May 17, 2013 8:00 AM
Serena Williams during the 2012 US Open.
(Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)
Click HERE to listen or visit iTunes to download the podcast and be sure to SUBSCRIBE to the Front & Center podcast. Also, make sure to check out the ESPN Radio app, available for the iPad.
On Thursday, ESPN and the United States Tennis Association announced a landmark, 11-year agreement making the network the exclusive home of the US Open starting in 2015.
Jason Bernstein (ESPN)
With this new deal adding about 30 hours of US Open television coverage to the 100 or so ESPN has aired since 2009 — including Labor Day weekend, the semifinals in prime time and both the women’s and men’s finals — and countless hours on ESPN3 covering the outer courts, ESPN will now air the championship in three of the four tennis majors. continue reading…